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Pocatello man who died from COVID-19 complications remembered as family man who’d help anybody


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Ramon “Ray” Vasquez (black shirt with flower) with his family. | Courtesy Vasquez family

POCATELLO — Ramon “Ray” Vasquez was a family man, outstanding cook and somebody who was always thinking of how to help other people — even when he was fighting for his own life.

Vasquez, 65, died at Portneuf Medical Center Sunday. His death marks the first COVID-19-related death in eastern Idaho. He leaves behind seven children and over 20 grandchildren. This is the second tragedy the Vasquez family has undergone in nearly three months. Ray lost his wife, Irma, unexpectedly, in March.

The day after Ray found out he’d tested positive for the virus, he was admitted to the ICU due to complications related to COVID-19. He was treated with a ventilator, but he died less than three weeks after being diagnosed.

“He was a very, very humble man. He was always smiling,” Vasquez’s daughter-in-law Angelica Martinez told “He would basically give the shirt off his back for anyone who needed help. He was a remarkable man.”

Vasquez was born in Wisconsin in 1954. From a young age, he spent his days working in the agricultural field. He’s helped harvest potatoes, onions, strawberries and beets.

Family members say he was looking forward to another harvest season because he enjoyed truck driving and helping get harvested goods where they needed to go.

“That’s what his passion was, to truck drive. That’s exactly what he told the nurse when he got there (to the) hospital (is) he had to get back home so he can go back to work in the harvest,” his daughter-in-law Lisa Vasquez said.

Not only was harvesting something he couldn’t get enough of but spending time with family was an important part of his life.

Courtesy Vasquez family

In the early 1970s, Ray married Irma. The story goes that the couple flipped a coin to decide if they’d move to Idaho or Arizona to settle down and grow their family roots.

The way the decision was made, some people might consider it gutsy. But it influenced them to pack their bags, say goodbye to Texas and head for Aberdeen in 1989.

“I’ve been with this family for 26 years, and he’s been the kindest, most caring person. If anybody needed anything, he was right there. If he couldn’t do it, he was going to figure out a way. There was nothing that he wasn’t willing to do for somebody else,” Lisa said. “(He was) very content with so little, as long as everybody else was satisfied with whatever they had and needed.”

His daughters-in-laws said Ray was an outstanding cook. Not only was he known for his homemade salsa and always being ready to cook for anybody who entered his home, but he’d always serve everyone else before he sat down.

Martinez said even when Irma’s health was declining and she was in the hospital, Ray still made sure to take care of the rest of his family.

“I had been there at the hospital for days and he left to go wash up and he came back here (to the hospital) and he had made breakfast for me,” Lisa recalls. “He made his potatoes and salsa.”

While family and friends cling to the memories of Ray, his family wants the community to know he was living his life like normal when he got sick. Due to medical history, he did take safety precautions once COVID-19 hit in Idaho and once he tested positive for the virus.

“A lot of people are scared of the unknown, and they don’t think that people take precautions because they see a lot of people out there running around anyhow,” Lisa said. “We are not that family.”

“He was very well-loved,” Martinez said. “He was home for all of us.”

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family with the unexpected financial burdens. Click here to donate.

Our attorneys tell us we need to put this disclaimer in stories involving fundraisers: does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries.